Blake Bortles had a helluva season for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2015, but there is room for improvement as the mistakes mounted up too often.
It almost feels bad to rain on the parade for Blake Bortles after the massive improvement he showed in his sophomore season, but there’s clearly a number of spots where he can improve as a quarterback.
Breaking franchise passing records for passing yards (4428) and touchdowns (35), Bortles had an excellent season. He also nurtured two promising star wide receivers in Allen Robinson and Allen Hurns, who both managed to pass 1000 yards, becoming the first wide receivers to do so for the Jags since Jimmy Smith in 2005.
But there’s always room for improvement and in the case of Blake Bortles, there are plenty of ways to improve. He may be in the better half of quarterbacks now, but he’ll have to get even better if he wants to be among the very best. He still isn’t considered the best in his class by some people, though our readers voted him the best second-year QB after giving that honor to Teddy Bridgewater at the start of the season.
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For Bortles, it’s often about decision making and holding onto the ball too long. Part of the blame for
, but at the end of the day it’s about the quarterback. Whether you’re sacked a league-leading 51 times or not, the QB has to make adjustments to win games.
Or, in the case of Bortles, the QB has to make adjustments to not lose the team games.
In his rookie season, Bortles threw 17 interceptions. It was so bad at one point that people thought he would finish the season leading the league in interceptions (fortunately, Jay Cutler and Philip Rivers stepped up to “win” that award). In his sophomore campaign, Bortles threw 18 picks and did lead the league in interceptions.
Those interceptions weren’t all tipped balls. A lot of them were poor decisions by Bortles and a handful of them were returned for touchdowns. He had six pick-sixes in his first 19 starts as a quarterback and he had a few more through the season. Big Cat Country broke all of them down for their readers and a lot of them are ugly. It wouldn’t shocking to see Bortles end up near former Jaguar Blaine Gabbert (fifth) on this list of most pick-sixes as a percentage of attempts by Football Perspective.
He’s got to learn when to make a high risk throw (when there is a high reward) and work through his progressions better. There are times when a receiver is open but Bortles forces it into double or triple coverage to a different receiver. Those are mistakes that were (thankfully) not capitalized on every time he made them.
It isn’t all about the decision making, though. Bortles also holds onto the ball too long. 51 sacks aren’t all on the offensive line and while it’s nice to see a QB playing each and every down with 100 percent effort, Bortles is trying to make plays happen on a lot of downs when nothing positive can come of it. This leads to interceptions, sacks, and fumbles.
Bortles finished the season with 14 fumbles, doubling his total from 2014. In his attempt to make big plays, Bortles is putting himself in no-win situations. This includes holding onto the ball as the pocket crumbles around him, trying to gain a couple extra yards, and sometimes just boneheaded mistakes.
There’s no excuse for a quarterback to fumble that many times in a season and he needs to get better at protecting the football in that regard. If he cut back on his fumbles alone, he would be able to keep the Jags in contention longer. No player fumbled as much as Bortles in the 2015 season.
Lastly, Blake Bortles desperately needs to improve his completion percentage. Bortles’ 58.6 percent was better than just four quarterbacks: rookie Jameis Winston, benched Nick Foles, released Ryan Mallett, and a severely-regressed Andrew Luck. This is the second season in a row that Bortles has been in the bottom six among quarterbacks for completion percentage and a lot of it comes down to decision making and making the right reads.
In fact, Bortles regressed in his second season, finishing .3 percent worse than his rookie season, which was widely recognized as downright horrific.
Blake Bortles is a risky quarterback. He’s the Brett Favre of his quarterback generation and he’s making all the big throws and big mistakes that the Green Bay Packers lived with for years. There’s something special about Bortles, but he needs to realize his potential and limit his mistakes if he ever wants to be a part of conversations about the best QBs in the business.